Wednesday, February 21, 2007

"Forty Winks With Luci"

Insomnia? Not only did I write the book on it, but the sequel, the prequel and all related essays. I’ve gone as many as fifty hours between sleep and functioned as good or better than most. Or at worst, just like someone that has a coupla stiff drinks in him.

Or let me put it this way, sleep to me is like food to a shark. I have something in me that helps me do without and when I do come across it? I devour it until I get my fill. But like an over-fished, polluted ocean, it hasn’t come to me and I can’t remember the last time I’ve fed.

You see, as many people as I’ve had to put to sleep in my profession, you learn to deal without guilt or sleep…or it eats you alive.

It’s kind of strange though. I don’t remember moving into this apartment or exactly how I got here. It seems like it’s 8:30 PM in the summer all the time and like the sun just can’t quite figure out which way is down. Whether I’m in bed, on the couch or even on the floor, the light in the place always keeps me up.

When I somehow manage to shake off the light, some kid drives by with one of those car stereos that make your windows rattle and he parks right in front of the building. I have a brick with his name on it, but he always manages to drive off just as I open the front door or a window.

When he’s not at it, the neighbors will get into a screaming match or play their stereo too damn loud and it’s always a song that I couldn’t stand the first hundred times I heard it. Then there’s these idiot construction workers…they’re always digging up my sidewalk for a project that they’re in no hurry to finish.

I confronted one of them today and asked him, when are they going to get done? He replied, “ask Luci.” Then I went to the foreman of the crew, to try and make peace and alls he said was “talk to Luci.” What the hell? Who do I have to kill to get just one hour of sleep? The whole work crew?

So as I just came back down my hallway, I caught one of the neighbor’s kids bouncing a baseball off my door. I grabbed the little snot by the arm and asked him what the devil he was doing. He gave a smirk to rival Rick the Rat and said “chat it up with Luci.”

“Luci who?”

“Down in the basement, you‘ll know.”

So I drop him like a bad habit and it’s down the stairs to settle this because I‘m not paying tribute. Funny, the basement seems further down than I figured it should be, like someone’s added six more flights of stairs.

When I get down there, I don’t like what I see it all. I have to chalk it up to my insomnia or I’m going to lose it. Everyone that I’ve wasted, put to sleep and a few that I was never sure that I was successful with, they’re all playing cards.

The room’s painted bright red and it’s cold as a witch’s down here. There‘s twenty people at six tables, they’re looking slightly pale, but too damn good to be fish food and skeletons.

And can you believe this shit? They’re all ignoring me. I guess it’s just as well because my sanity is about to burst right out of my skull. Way at the back table, my very first hit, Dante Fieri nods at me. I nod back and walk toward him.

I know, I’ve finally got some sleep and I’m having a nightmare, that‘s it. As I walk, I look down and instead of playing cards, everyone’s using them damn Tarot cards.

“You wanted to see me?”

“No, why would I, Dante?”

“No, you’ve got it wrong…I’m not Dante.”

“The hell you’re not! I put you down myself!”

“Huh, wrong. I got tired of that fire and brimstone shit. Please to meet you, the name’s Lucifer.”

Note: This was my first submission to "Flashing In The Gutters" and it was originally titled, "Twenty Winks With Luci." Why? Hell, I can't remember what I had for lunch two days ago.

I do remember that the local gas company had been tearing up the streets and sidewalks around my house for almost twenty-three months in a row. This in itself is not bad, until you consider that I am a night owl and I have worked the graveyard shift for almost half of my life.

So to get through my insomnia, I tried to deal with it through humor, then I dealt with it through this story.

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